Finding Fault

This team is virtually flawless.

Honestly, what is there to complain about?  For someone desperate come up with angles to cover on a daily basis, I know that flaws and problems make for better copy than just praising the same guys 7 days a week.  The Horse is undefeated and has played so well for so long, that we’ve virtually run out of superlatives.  All of us know better than to start getting giddy or to look too far ahead.  All that matters is the playoffs, and with Indy making a strong case that they are going there with a high seed, there’s only so much to talk about.  This next list all but proves it.

Here’s a list of the 5 greatest weaknesses for the Colts.  Bear in mind, this is a sliding scale.  These problem areas are not proportional to the Colts strengths, but they are real weaknesses.

1.  Kick Returner-Chad “The Human Touchback Simpson” is the walking definition of below average.  He is currently 51st in the NFL in kick off yardage averaging 21.6 yards per return.  Footballoutsiders puts the Colts return game in the bottom half of the league.  On every kick off, we all just pray that no one will fumble.  When you have a prolific offense, it’s not necessary to have a dynamic return game, but it would be nice to sniff the 30 once in a while.

2.  Kicker-Matt Stover is 41.  Vinatieri is recovering from surgery.  If the Colts should need a 52 yard field goal to win a game, would anyone feel confident about it?

3.  Defensive Tackle-I know.  At this point I’m nitpicking. That’s a good thing. The general consensus is that the DTs have played pretty well.  They have.  Still, Indy ranks 31st in the NFL in stopping power runs and LAST in the NFL in stopping runs for losses.  The run D has looked better because the Colts are 5th in allowing the fewest big plays in the running game.  Some of this is the result of playing with a huge lead.  The safeties are back and shut down long runs.  All these numbers imply is that the LBs and the safeties are playing better than the DTs.   In fact, rank 27th, 27th, 28th in runs over the LT, up the middle and RT.  On runs wide, the Colts are 15th (DON’T RUN WIDE ON THE COLTS!).  All this shows is that the DTs still have a ways to go, though we are all glad for their progress.

4. Run blocking from the tackles-It’s hard to criticize the O linemen.  Manning leads the league in YPA and has been sacked only twice.  That says he’s getting time to throw and throw long.  Still, the run game has been pedestrian.  Oddly enough, the Colts are 4th in the NFL converting 77% of their “power runs” defined as the “percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer.”  Digging deeper we see that Indy has been respectable running up the middle, but is 24th and 21st running around the left and right ends.  They are actually better around right end than last year when they were 31st in that area.  As well as Charlie Johnson has played as a pass blocker though, Indy was 10th around left end with Ugoh last year and has dropped off dramatically running wide left this season.

5.  Luck-The Colts have actually had some bad game luck this year.  The Outsiders track ‘hidden’ special teams yards.  It “represents the advantage teams have received from elements of special teams generally out of their control: opposing field goals, kickoff distance, and punt distance.”  Indy ranks 31st in football in this category.  Sunday was a good example of that.  Indy couldn’t control what Josh Brown did punting the ball inside the 10 repeatedly.

A list of team weaknesses that includes a kick returner, place kicker and luck means one thing:  this is a great team.

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